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Stick Fighting (Donga)  in  Surma Tribe - Ethiopia

The term Surma is the Ethiopian government's collective name for the Suri, Mursi and Me'en groups that inhabit the southwestern part of the country, with a total population of 186,875. All three groups speak languages belonging to the Surmic branch of the Nilo-Saharan language family. Some authors have used the terms "Suri" and "Surma" interchangeably.


One of the main Surma / Suri customs is sticking fighting. This ritual and sport is called Donga or Sagenai (Saginay). Donga is both the name of the sport and the stick, whereas sagenai is the name of the stick-fighting session. Stick fighting is central in Suri culture. In most cases, stick fighting is a way for warriors to find girlfriends; it can also be a way to settle conflicts. On this occasion men show their courage, their virility and their resistance to pain, to the young women. At a fight, each challenger is armed with a hardwood stick. Each player beats his opponent with his stick as many times as possible with the intention of knocking him down, and eliminating him from the game. Players are usually unmarried men. The winner will be carried on a platform of poles to a group of girls waiting at the open field. The winner holds the privilege to ask among those girls for his own wife. The young Surma men & girls paint their bodies with a mixture of varied chalks - prepared by them. The Surma women are well-known for piercing their lips and inserting a large wooden and clay plate into it. Surma ethnic’s culture is beyond what we are experiencing in the current civilized world. Surma and Mursi ethnics exercise the same culture. Donga - stick fighting is often in September.